Tag Archives: Natalism

Natalism and Status

Natalism has been going around lately. TRS has linked the problem to affluence, Yuray has made the fairly obvious observation that minor tax incentives are not enough to raise the baby-making rate, while Spandrell has linked the the fertility crisis to kids costing lots and recommends making it profitable with major tax incentives.

I’m actually rather surprised by Spandrell’s answer. He’s the one who’s been pushing Status Points theory the hardest around here and has noted that any kind of insanity can be accomplished when status is on the line. As we’ve seen, people will go to almost any length for status.

It’s obvious that women want to work rather than procreate, but this is not because (most*) women particularly like working or because they prefer work to marriage and family. It’s not because housework is drudgery, most women who work do something similar to housework in their jobs.

The reason women want to work is because working is high status.** The reason women don’t have children is because having children is low status, and the more children the lower the status.

Examples of this abound: When you read about the Duggars or another large family, you will almost assuredly find criticisms along the line of ‘use a condom’ or ‘brood mare’. Women who stay home to care for their family are ‘stepford wives’. Women who spend their lives on home and family are ‘wasting their lives‘. Relationships show a lack of ambition and too much traditionalism (which is negative). Young marriage is discouraged. Etcetera, etcetera. Feminists have been working very hard to destroy any status attached to motherhood.

You’ve no doubt heard the blatant lie that motherhood is the toughest job in the world? Nobody could honestly believe taking care of a child is tougher than working in a coal mine or as an infantryman in Afghanistan, but everybody spreads that lie because it bolsters the low and declining status of women with children.

Having children is low status, but even beyond that status games pervade all of motherhood. The mommy wars aren’t about whether children are better off being raised by their parents or by daycare workers, it’s about who gets good mother status points: stay-at homes or working mothers.

Before you thinks that good mother status contradicts my thesis, know that low status is still some status, while having no children is no status. Have you ever read an article by childfree women? I can almost guarantee you it was complaining about how others expect them to have kids, think them odd that they don’t, or using the status of having kids to one-up them.  In other words, their primary complaints are about the status hits they are taking for not having children. These status hits gnaw away at them despite having an ‘exciting, meaningful’ life of travel, work, and leisure. (Notice how they will always status signal other areas in their life to make up for this lack of status).

Having children is lower status than eduction, working, travel, or having status-giving interests. Being a stay-at-home mother is low status compared to being a working mother. Having many children is lower status than having one or two children. Having children young is lower status than having them once infertility hits.

This, more than anything, is why he have such low birth rates.

So, the answer to the fertility crisis is not tax changes, natalism benefits, or motherhood welfare. The way to get women to want to reproduce is to make children the ultimate status symbol.

Read the story of Leah and Rachel in Genesis 29 and 30. Having children was high status, so they did everything they could possibly to produce more children so they could win the status competition against each other.

We need to make it so that instead of the culture lauding whorish celebrities and woman CEO’s, mothers are celebrated. We need news reports to make glowing reports on women having their 6th child, rather than shows idolizing women who adopt foreign children or slutty daring dresses. When Mrs. Duggar has more status than Hillary Clinton, that’s when we will turn this ship around.

Sadly, we don’t control the levers of the culture-industry, so there’s not much we can do for society as a whole, but there are things you can do in your own little circles.

Make a point of praising women who have kids and their mothering skills. If a family is thinking of having another kid, make a positive comment. Praise young men and women you know who are thinking of young marriage, and otherwise encourage young people aroudn you to marry early. Let some disappointment slip out if people say ‘two’s enough for us’. Register some thinly concealed disapproval or contempt if someone says, ‘we don’t want children’. If you can smoothly do backhanded compliments or negs for the self-sterilizing, that would work too. And so on.

You’re working against the combined forces of the media, academy, bureaucracy, and culture, but you might be able to have some influence. Status is mainly an abstraction of a multitude of positive and negative social interactions. If you add to the interactions around you, elevating motherhood and deriding self-sterilization, you might indirectly change a few minds in your local communities. If enough people do it, maybe the trend could be reversed.

One warning, try to keep it subtle enough. Push too hard or too blatantly and you it might backfire if they get defensive or if you look like a jerk. You want to subtly influence their general perception of status, not come off as someone pushing a low status opinion.


* Before some idiot brings it up: yes, not all women are alike, yes, there are some women that like their jobs, and yes, some women just don’t like children. A generalization is not an absolute, spare me.

** And yes, because they need cash, but the need for cash came after the desire for status. The drive of women into the workplace was due to status, but once women entered, it drove wages down and costs up, forcing more women into the workplace for monetary reasons.

The Bookshelf: Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids

I previously mentioned that I was reading Bryan Caplan’s Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids. Having now completed reading the book, here’s the review.

The book is a pro-natalist book arguing that your self-interest should lead you to have more children, that having kids should be easier than you think, and that you’re parenting style is not really going to affect your children’s long-term outcomes.

The book is written in a typical popular economics manner: a light-hearted tone, but keen on being technically accurate and precise. It’s very readable and simplifies the issues and studies to be understandable to all. The arguments are well-supported by scientific studies, common-sense, and coherent logical arguments. THe Overall, it’s a well-written book.

As for content, the book is divided into eight chapters and is fairly short at less than 200 pages (238 pages if you include references and indices).

The first chapter argues that the parent’s happiness counts too and that a parent should lessen their own parental workload for their own benefit (and their family’s).

The second chapter shows very clearly that, as long as you are a typical first world parent, your method of parenting has no real long-term effect on your children’s futures and you should not feel guilty about lessening your workload.

Having demonstrated that your parenting has no long-term effect on your children’s future, the third chapter lays out how this should practically effect your family life.

The fourth chapter attacks the notion that society is more dangerous for children now than and the past, and shows clearly that kids are safer than they have ever been.

The fifth chapter argues that if you fully look at the long-term consequences of having children, you will have more than you currently have, because you overestimate the work of children in the near future and underestimate the value of children when you are older.

The sixth chapter argues that, contrary to the arguments of the over-population crowd, more children are not bad for the world, rather a larger population and more children are a positive benefit for the world.

The seventh chapter gives some tips for increasing the number of grandchildren you have.

The eighth chapter talks up the benefits of fertility technology.

The ninth chapter and final chapter is Caplan’s clarifications and responses to common hesitations and counter-arguments presented in a dialog format.

Overall, I would recommend reading this book. The subject matter is interesting, the book is well written, the arguments are clear and persuasive, and more information on one of the most important decisions in your life is always a good thing.


If you’re married, plan to marry, have kids, or are considering having kids, I would fully recommend you read this book so you can make family decisions with accurate knowledge.

If you never plan to get married and/or have children, this book will may not be relevant to you, so you may not want to read it. You may still want to read it if you are interested in natalism or family issues or simply to consider (re)evaluate the long-term impacts of your choices.